Actually, You’ll Have to Stay Another Semester

            

According to uwwcost.uww.edu, college students at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater pay about $6,700 to attend per semester. Of that amount, about 25 percent of it are loans that will have to be paid off according to finaid.org. An additional semester’s loans could mean more years the alumni require in order to pay off those loans. Students cannot afford to attend college for an additional year, but the discrepancy between intended graduation date and actual graduation date is making additional college costs a more frequent occurrence.

In a study done by The College Board Annual Survey of Colleges, on average at a 4-year public college in the 2004-05 academic school year, students in Wisconsin payed an average of $6,312 for tuition. That amount of money adjusted for inflation numbers in 2012, which is the most recent year data was available, is $7,589.

On the other hand in the 2011-12 academic school year, on average at a public 4-year school, students in Wisconsin payed an average of $8,690 for tuition. From the 2004-05 to the 2011-12 school year, tuition increased 23 percent. Even adjusted for inflation, the amount of money a college student had to pay in 2004-05 was more than $1,100 less than they had to pay in 2011-12. In one student’s case, that additional $1,100 amounted to large bank loan interest, which coincidentally set back his life goals and career in the process. This additional $1,100 does not seem to be that much of an additional charge considering most college students will accumulate upwards of $10,000 of debt for an undergraduate degree. However, the interest rate on a loan can be the difference between paying off $10,000 of debt and $20,000 of debt.

According to finaid.org, a financial aid informational website, the average 2004-05 interest rate for college loans was 3.37 percent. In comparison, the average interest rate for 2010-11, the most recent date that data was available, the average interest rate was 4.5 percent. With an average 5-year loan period, a college student’s monthly payments on a 2011-12 loan of $8,690 will be about $50 more than the payments of the equal time period 2004-05 loan, with the 1.13 percent loan discrepancy. This calculation is for one semester; to put the total amount the average student would have to pay for an additional semester, the total for all of their semesters would have to be taken into account.

If an undergraduate in 2012 paid about $50 more per semester than an undergraduate in 2004, for each respective semester’s loans, the student would pay about $450 more because of increased interest rates on loans that were required to pay for increased tuition. This estimate took into account eight standard semesters at a 4-year public college, plus the additional semester that most students have to stay because the classes they need to graduate are not offered or are full when they need to take that given class, resulting in some students requiring only needing one or two classes in an additional semester to graduate.

In one example, Zacary Sanders found a new life at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. As a transfer student, he found that he was paying “too much” at his old university. “I attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and I’ve never felt so lost in my life,” Sanders said. “I felt too unimportant, and I think that’s something that shouldn’t happen for the money I’m paying.” The Sanders are a family of four; the family lives in Hartland, Wis., and both his mom and dad have college educations. However, the money his parents paid for tuition at public universities in Wisconsin was small compared to what Sanders is paying now, “My mom and dad payed 400 dollars for tuition when they went to school, now that’s what I spend on food in like three months.”

The extra semester Sanders has to stay stems from his credits that did not transfer from UW-Madison, and therefore, were essentially wasted money on top of his extra semester’s tuition. “I’ll end up paying like an additional 1,500 dollars because of the credits I lost in the transfer and the additional semester have to stay because of it,” Sanders said. “I’m not sure what my interest rates on my loans are, but I can’t imagine myself being done with payments until I’m in my early 30s.”

Sanders’ problem is not a rarity; even though Kirsten Zimmer is not a transfer student, she still must stay an additional semester at UW-Whitewater. Her fine arts major and advertising minor caused some course scheduling struggles. As with many students, once they reach the highest level of intended courses, scheduling options become few and difficult to arrange. “I needed an art class, but it only met once a week, for a few hours on Monday nights,” Zimmer said. “The final class I needed for my advertising minor was also at the same time.” Scheduling conflicts among majors and minors are often what contribute to students staying an additional semester. They cannot always be avoided.

Department Chair Kim Hixson said most professors teach multiple classes, and that their individual schedules don’t allow for multiple sessions of a given class. In addition, “Once students find themselves at the end of their major, they often are among only a handful of other students of the same degree progression,” Hixson said. “There simply aren’t enough students to fill multiple class sections in the higher courses.”

Zimmer also ran into a career problem as a result of her having to stay another semester. “I was offered an internship for the fall of next year, but I had to turn it down,” Zimmer said. “I missed out on this great career opportunity because of scheduling conflicts with my major and minor.” Zimmer was offered an internship with Cramer-Krasselt Advertising Agency, but had to turn it down.

While the financial burdens weren’t the most significant statistic that set back college students in an additional semester, they were enough to keep one student from attending his “final semester.” Kirk Thommesen lives at home with his single mother. He commutes to and from school twice a week and he works a full-time job on top of his course load. “Personally, the financial setback of affording another semester has made me question if I was ever ‘intended’ to graduate on time,” Thommesen said. “Because of [staying another semester], I’ve had to try to get more hours at work, and it’s just a bad situation career-wise.” Thommesen believes the minor setback will prove to be a large obstacle in his career aspirations.

In a survey conducted on surveymonkey.com, 37 out of 50 undergraduates polled at UW-Whitewater thought that staying an additional semester past their “intended” graduation date would set them back among their fellow graduates.  “Many students believe that staying another semester past their intended graduation date is a bad thing, but that’s just not the case,” Hixson said. “I’ve found that students who come back later as alumni and have been through [staying an extra semester] had more career opportunities. Places like the Wisconsin Newspaper Association offer internships and part-time jobs all year ‘round. Students need not worry about finding opportunities in both academic semesters.”

In the spring semester of 2013, WNA had posted on their website more than a dozen internship opportunities. In one case, for the TMJ4 News Spring Internship position, internship coordinator Stephanie Graham said the program had the most applicants in more than five years. The program had so many applicants that contrary to previous years, Graham was not able to individually interview each applicant. Her and her team had to individually pre-screen each applicant, and then have a secondary interview process.

Academic adviser Kathy Brady spoke to the stigma of staying another semester, “Students have even more of an opportunity to get a job if they graduate mid-academic year,” Brady said. “They are in essence beating the rush of new graduates who enter the job market every May or June. By graduating in the winter, students avoid as competitive of a job market as those who graduate in the spring.”

Brady said that students who stay another semester will have financial problems depending on how far along they are in their academic careers. “Students often come to me and ask, ‘what’s this going to cost me?’ or ‘can I avoid this?’ and in many cases the answer is no,” Brady said. “Once they’ve gotten as far as having to take another semester, whether it is for one credit or 12, there’s really no avoiding it.” Brady stressed that each student’s case is different, but she expressed that a student in that situation should expect to pay just as much as their previous semesters. However, in the case that financial aid or loans will not be at such a ready-available quantity, students could pay upwards of 50 percent more for an additional semester in the most extreme cases.

In one such case, UW-Whitewater senior Drew Craugh had trouble funding his final semester of college. Craugh comes from Belmont, Wis., where farms are plentiful and college educations are scarce. “Yeah, Belmont is average-sized, but most of the people live on farms and don’t have college educations,” Craugh said. “I suppose in my situation I’ve had a bit of a harder time trying to pay for college. Both of my parents work and I’ve had to pay my way through college. I took two years off after high school to save money because I knew I wasn’t going to get much from financial aid.”

Craugh eventually was one semester away from graduating, but he found a problem in his advising report. He found that he’d have to stay an additional semester for only six credits. “I looked at my advising report and I literally almost cried,” Craugh said. “I didn’t know how it had happened, but I guess scheduling conflicts had piled up to the point that I had to stay for only two more classes.” In which case, Craugh had not anticipated that he would have to stay another semester. The hardest part was telling his dad. “I remember the look on his face, he didn’t know whether to cry or be angry,” Craugh said.

Mark Craugh, Drew’s father, thought his son was telling him he was never going to graduate from college. “Once I realized what he was telling me, I was fine with it,” Mark Craugh said. “At that point, I just wanted him to find a way to pay for it. He’s a responsible kid, and I knew that he’d find a way.” Mark Craugh knew his son would find a way to pay for the rest of his college education because Drew had worked for his father’s construction team since he was in high school. “We just had odd jobs here and there, but he was reliable, responsible, and hard-working,” Mark Craugh said.

Drew took off for another year after his “senior” year of college. He worked in Belmont at odd jobs here and there, from Wal-Mart to working with his father again, Drew never lost sight of his undergraduate degree. “I’m really proud of him, even if he has to stay another semester,” Mark Craugh said. “Besides, I enjoy having him home, and he’s saving up good money working again.”

Aside from the time spent at home, Drew tirelessly looked for jobs or internships in his field that he could apply for once he earned his college degree. “I was up almost every night that year I was out of school and working at home,” Drew Craugh said. “It forced me to take opportunity more seriously.” Once that year was done and Drew earned enough money to attend college again, he had to wait even longer because certain classes he needed were not offered in the semester that was coming up.

 

Drew Craugh finally came back to UW-Whitewater in the spring semester of 2013. His education was paid for with the hard work accumulated during the previous year. In spite of being required to stay another semester for only two classes, Craugh earned valuable experience during his hiatus that helped him earn a job before graduation. “The experience I got from my construction job during the summer helped me network with this architecture firm I learned about through people at the construction job,” Drew Craugh said. “I just never knew at the beginning of this whole problem that I’d be better off after it.”

Craugh’s case is extreme because he found a job that helped him in his field of interest. However, what is often the case is that people are more apt to think negatively about taking time off from school and finding a job to earn some money to pay for their education. Of 50 students polled on surveymonkey.com, only 22 had jobs while they attended school. Less than half of the students had a way to set-off their tuition, dining, and housing costs while they attended school. The growing trend is that students rely on a summer job or financial aid money to pay the bills. This can be a problem when, like in Craugh’s case, students unexpectedly stay another semester and have to find additional funds to pay for it.

Increased interest rates, scheduling conflicts and career opportunities can hinder a student from graduating on-time; however, the stigma that staying another semester is overly bearing on a student’s financial situation or will cause an individual to miss a career opportunity is not true. If anything, students who graduate mid-academic year have less of a competitive pool of graduates to compete with for a job. In addition, the financial burden of staying another semester is often not as severe as advertised and the remedy can often be found in forgoing a year to earn money or taking out additional loans. Whatever the case, the discrepancy between intended and actual graduation date in not a hindrance to success.

Move to Amend Referenda Supported Throughout the Nation

The Move to Amend referenda was especially effective in the Whitewater and Fort Atkinson area during the April 2 ballot. The referenda garnered substantial support, 76 percent at a total of 1,312 votes in Fort Atkinson, and 83 percent at a total of 1,013 votes in Whitewater. Such support could mean that people are ready for a change, that people are ready for corporations to have a limit on spending.

The Move to Amend is not yet law, it is simply a referenda meant to gauge the likelihood a similar proposal would pass in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

The reason this referenda is so important is due in part to the issue of campaign spending restrictions on corporations, unions, and not-for-profit organizations being loosened in recent years. As part of the Citizens United, Appelant v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, prohibiting spending by entities listed above is a violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

Individuals who support the ban of “big money” contributions to elections were pleased with the grass-roots support of the referenda. UW-Whitewater assistant professor James Hartwick said the election results showed a “strong bipartisan support to get big money out of elections.”

In a more general sense, the Move to Amend is meant to even the playing field on campaign spending. “It just shows the overwhelming support that citizens have for a constitutional amendment to return control of the democracy to the citizens,” organizer of the Rock River (Fort Atkinson) affiliate of Move to Amend, Dan Fary said.

The support for the referenda is also on the national level. President Barack Obama is troubled by the influence looser restrictions on political spending could have on the average contributor. Obama even went as far to say the Supreme Court ruling is devastating to the public interest because it advocates for special interest and foreign corporations.

The referenda’s wording in Fort Atkinson was especially telling of how the people feel toward corporations. According to the referenda, “Resolved, that ‘We the People’ of the City of Fort Atkinson (Whitewater), Wisconsin, seek to reclaim democracy from the expansion of corporate personhood rights and the corrupting influence of unregulated political contributions and spending.”

The referenda called to the people in larger areas as well, with Move to Amend referenda on the ballot in larger cities like Portland, New York City and Los Angeles.

The problem most people in rural areas like Whitewater and urban cities like Los Angeles have with the current structure is the discrepancy between campaign spending by corporations, which usually have an agenda or private monetary interests at heart, and the average donor who usually has their and the public’s best interest in mind when donating to a political candidate.

The current state of restrictions was damned from the start, when Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissenting opinion to the Citizens United ruling, “a democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.” The Move to Amend is the culmination of Stevens’ opinion; it would assure the public that laws were not being sold to the highest bidder in a political forum.

County Board moves closer to getting Osteopathic College for Jefferson County

County Board moves closer to getting Osteopathic College

for Jefferson County

Further steps in the development of an osteopathic college at Sanctuary Ridge in Jefferson County were made on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at the Jefferson County board meeting. The osteopathic college is aimed at bridging the gap between the diminishing number of osteopathic physicians in rural areas and the demand for such physicians.

The proposed osteopathic college is estimated to have an economic affect to the tune of more than $65 million in Jefferson County and the surrounding areas. The college would create temporary construction jobs, and the college would offer more permanent administrative, faculty and support staff positions.

In addition, the new college could potentially cause a spike in the demand for new housing, commercial and retail businesses around Jefferson County.

This college is important to Jefferson County and the state of Wisconsin in general because it would bring reliable revenue and an important long-term investment in physicians.

Interim County Administrator

After more than seven years of public service to Jefferson County, County Administrator Gary Pete attended his final board meeting on March 12. Kathi Cauley was named Interim County Administrator.

This appointment came about because the Administration and Rules Committee deemed it necessary for the county to have an interim administrator who would take over Pete’s duties while the committee searched for a more permanent solution.

Board is unsure about asbestos-property

The county board also discussed the purchase of property, which was heavily contaminated with asbestos. The estimate was as high as more than $330,000 in asbestos contamination in tunnels under the property.

The initial estimate for the asbestos damage was $150,000, which in turn extended the closing date on the property until the next county board meeting. The county was undecided about the property because of the high amount of discrepancy between the initial and the actual cost to remove the asbestos.

Minor items 

Rushing Waters Fisheries, LLC loan proposal

The Resolving Loan Committee recommended a loan of $100,000 to Rushing Waters Fisheries, LLC of Palmyra. The money would be used for expanding the processing plant, cooler and freezer space, a retail store and a dining facility.

The loan is expected to create up to 16 jobs in the next three years, but no less than nine in the year following the equipment instillation.

Transfer of County Trunk Y 

The Jefferson County board approved the transfer of a less than half of a mile of County Trunk Y to the City of Watertown.

The transfer is merely a functional move, and will not directly affect any daily operations of the road.

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month 

The county board approved the resolution for April 2013 to begin the annual recognition of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month across Jefferson County.

The Human Services Board approved the recommendation on Feb. 12, 2013, because they believe it is important for adults to protect children. Programs and partnerships are the framework for creating a successful environment for children to grow, especially in local communities.

Lake Mills Satellite Shop 

The county board took steps backward in the development of the Lake Mills Satellite Shop. Committees seemed to be moving forward in the development of the shop, but during the board meeting, hidden concerns and finger-pointing stalled production.

Between committees and the county board, supporters lost votes that would have sent the project to bid, “I’m really confused where we lost bids,” Chairman of the Jefferson County Board, John Molinaro said. “I lost some faith in the committees, it’s making me wonder if we’re really working as a team.”

The stall holds back the project, which was initially estimated by Barrientos Design to cost $77,215.  The Highway Committee and Infrastructure Committee reviewed and approved the recommendation of a contract with Barrientos Design, but in the time between committee and board meeting, decisions were flopped.

Common Council discusses Field of Dreams, City Lighting

The Whitewater Common Council meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 5, was centered around two subjects: Treyton’s Field of Dreams and the possible change of direction to the pedestrian light at Main and Cottage streets.

Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Whitewater, Matt Amundson prepared a powerpoint presentation that he hoped would highlight the strengths of the Treyton’s Field of Dreams project. Among other things, Amundson showed the earning potential of a concession stand and possible youth tournament hosting.

His example was a field complex in Waupun, Wis., where they constructed three turf fields that costed $2.2 million dollars. Treyton’s Field of Dreams project is estimated to cost less than half of the Waupun project, and will feature four fields including the signature “Field of Dreams.”

The estimated revenue is a large draw to the project, especially with the addition of the concession stand. Amundson estimated the complex will bring in just as much as the Waupun complex did in 2012. The Waupun complex averaged between $5,000 and $5,400 per youth event.

The review and award of the construction bid by Strand and Associates will occur at the Common Council meeting on April 4. Until then, the project needs to raise more than $750,000 to cover remaining costs.

The council also discussed the pedestrian light at the corner of Main and Cottage streets. The pedestrian light stops traffic between two roads with traffic lights. The two roads with traffic lights are roughly 1,000 feet apart, which made some citizens wonder if the light is needed.

Councilmember Andrew Crone expressed his displeasure with the light. He has seen instances where the light was flashing and no pedestrian had been within 50 feet of the light. He believes it needlessly disrupts traffic.

Another pedestrian light change was discussed for the corner of Tratt Street and Starin Road. The wattage will be increased from 200 to 400 watts to combat low lighting in the area. The intersection is a three-way stop, and had significant lighting at only one of those stops. The wattage increase will be within the budget.

The meeting ended with some considerations regarding the police department. Councilmembers decided to approve the purchase of a new police car. The new car costs 1.5 percent more than the previous car, yet still falls into the allotted police budget.

In addition, the police department will be evaluated by a third party company. The evaluation is aimed at the current quality of service the department provides. The evaluation will offer suggestions to correct any staff problems or areas that need more staff allocated to them. The staff study will occur within the next year.